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Apr 21 2011

Evening Edition

Evening Edition is an Open Thread

From Yahoo News Top Stories

1 New Haiti president calls for ‘collaboration’

by Andrew Gully, AFP

1 hr 56 mins ago

WASHINGTON (AFP) – Haiti president-elect Michel Martelly urged opponents Thursday to work with him to rebuild the quake-hit nation after being officially declared the winner of last month’s run-off election.

While Martelly, a former singer and carnival entertainer, courted vital foreign investment in the United States, violence erupted in several towns back home following the announcement overnight of definitive poll results.

Demonstrators burned vehicles and blocked roads, and at least one person was killed in protests linked to legislative results confirming the ruling Unity party’s long-time grip on parliamentary power.

AFP

2 Border post seized, NATO warns Libya civilians

by Andrea Bernardi, AFP

10 mins ago

MISRATA, Libya (AFP) – Libyan rebels Thursday overran a post on the Tunisian border, marking their first advance in weeks against Moamer Kadhafi’s forces as NATO warned civilians to stand clear of its bombing blitz.

The United States, meanwhile, said it would deploy armed drones over Libya.

The capture of Wazin border post was cheered by several hundred rebels who raised the flag of the Libyan monarchy after between 150 and 200 pro-Kadhafi soldiers abandoned their weapons and fled into Tunisia.

3 Foreign military advisers head for Libyan rebel bastion

by Marc Burleigh, AFP

Wed Apr 20, 4:38 pm ET

MISRATA, Libya (AFP) – France and Italy joined Britain on Wednesday in sending military advisers to insurgent-held eastern Libya, as Tripoli warned that a foreign troop deployment would only prolong the conflict.

In the besieged city of Misrata, Tim Hetherington, an Oscar-nominated British film director and war photographer, was killed and three colleagues were wounded by mortar fire, the local hospital said.

Vanity Fair, for which Hetherington was working, confirmed the death of the 41-year-old from Liverpool, the second journalist killed covering Libya’s two-month-old conflict.

4 Syria president scraps decades-old emergency rule

AFP

44 mins ago

DAMASCUS (AFP) – Syrian President Bashar al-Assad on Thursday signed a decree to lift almost five decades of draconian emergency rule, on the eve of more of the protests which have rocked his regime.

Human rights groups said the demonstrations on Friday would prove a test case for Assad and his reforms.

Assad, in power since replacing his father Hafez as president in 2000, issued the order to scrap the state of emergency and decrees to abolish the state security court and allow citizens to hold peaceful demonstrations.

5 Nigeria leader says unrest recalls civil war build-up

by Ola Awoniyi, AFP

24 mins ago

ABUJA (AFP) – President Goodluck Jonathan said Thursday that deadly unrest following his election recalled the build-up to the Nigerian civil war, but vowed that next week’s governors’ polls would go on as planned.

Curfews and military patrols have largely restored calm after rioting broke out in northern Nigeria following southerner Jonathan’s win over northerner Muhammadu Buhari at the weekend and quickly spread across the region.

A Nigerian rights group says more than 200 people were killed, but authorities have refused to provide a death toll, fearing it could provoke reprisals. The number of displaced has risen to 60,000, the Red Cross says.

6 Nigerian unrest kills more than 200: rights group

by Aminu Abubakar, AFP

Wed Apr 20, 5:03 pm ET

KANO, Nigeria (AFP) – Post-poll unrest in Nigeria has killed more than 200 people, a rights group said Wednesday, as the Muslim opposition candidate who lost alleged rigging but said he did not instigate the riots.

Aid workers rushed to help nearly 40,000 displaced, many of whom had taken refuge in military and police barracks, while victims being treated in hospitals spoke of being hacked with machetes and beaten with clubs.

Authorities say many were killed in the violence, which saw corpses burnt beyond recognition and bodies reportedly thrown into wells, but have refused to give a toll, saying it could spark reprisals and would be inaccurate.

7 Japan PM declares no-go zone around nuclear plant

by Harumi Ozawa, AFP

Thu Apr 21, 6:27 am ET

TOKYO (AFP) – Japan on Thursday banned people from going within 20 kilometres (12 miles) of the tsunami-hit Fukushima nuclear plant, which has been leaking radiation for nearly six weeks.

The ban, which gives legal weight to an existing exclusion zone, comes after police found more than 60 families living in the area and residents returning to their abandoned homes to collect belongings.

Prime Minister Naoto Kan announced the no-entry area, due to be enforced from midnight (1500 GMT), on a visit to Fukushima prefecture, where thousands now live in evacuation shelters, almost six weeks after the March 11 quake.

8 Sri Lanka warns UN not to publish war crimes report

by Amal Jayasinghe, AFP

2 hrs 59 mins ago

COLOMBO (AFP) – Sri Lanka warned the United Nations Thursday against publishing a “preposterous” report on alleged war crimes during the island’s ethnic war, saying it could badly harm reconciliation efforts.

Foreign Minister G. L. Peiris asked UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon not to release the study compiled by a panel of experts who looked into alleged rights abuses and crimes against humanity during fighting which ended in 2009.

“The publication of this report will cause irreparable damage to the reconciliation efforts of Sri Lanka. It will damage the UN system too,” Peiris told reporters in Colombo. “This UN report is preposterous.”

9 Fiat makes $1.3-bln Chrysler bid for world status

by Mathieu Gorse, AFP

Thu Apr 21, 1:04 pm ET

MILAN (AFP) – Fiat took a giant step on Thursday to becoming one of the biggest automakers in the world with a $1.3-billion (889-million-euro) deal to boost its stake in US unit Chrysler to 46 percent.

The deal — part of a strategy by Fiat to use the effective rescue of Chrysler as a route to a global presence — was cheered by investors but trade unions said it meant Fiat management was turning away from Italy.

Fitch ratings agency also warned it could downgrade Fiat’s credit rating because of “the potential increase in net debt in relation to the transaction.”

10 Over 100,000 paid subscribers for NYTimes.com

by Chris Lefkow, AFP

38 mins ago

WASHINGTON (AFP) – The New York Times Co. released its first figures on Thursday since it began charging for full access to NYTimes.com, saying it has signed up more than 100,000 paid subscribers in three weeks.

While the Times Co. described the early numbers for digital subscribers to the newspaper’s website as “encouraging,” first quarter results for the media giant were less so and shares in the company fell sharply on Wall Street.

The Times Co., which includes the flagship New York Times, Boston Globe, International Herald Tribune, 15 other dailies and About.com, said net profit plunged 57.6 percent to $5.4 million on continued print advertising weakness.

11 A year after BP spill, Obama vows to restore Gulf

by Craig Guillot, AFP

Wed Apr 20, 7:31 pm ET

NEW ORLEANS, Louisiana (AFP) – Mourners bowed their heads at vigils Wednesday to mark the first anniversary of the massive blowout on BP’s Deepwater Horizon rig, which unleashed the biggest maritime oil spill in history and blackened beaches from Texas to Florida.

President Barack Obama vowed to do “whatever is necessary” to restore the US Gulf Coast and to “hold BP and other responsible parties fully accountable for the damage they’ve done and the painful losses that they’ve caused.”

Oil-coated dolphin carcasses and sticky tar balls continue to wash up on beaches a year after the April 20, 2010 explosion which killed 11 workers and sank the Deepwater Horizon some 50 miles (80 kilometers) off the coast of Louisiana.

Reuters

12 GE’s profit beat fails to stir Wall Street

By Scott Malone, Reuters

Thu Apr 21, 1:07 pm ET

BOSTON (Reuters) – General Electric Co posted an 80 percent rise in profit that topped Wall Street’s expectations, helped by a strong recovery in its finance arm.

But the results, which followed a series of better-than-expected earnings reports from top U.S. manufacturers, failed to impress investors and shares of the largest U.S. conglomerate fell 2 percent on Thursday.

The world’s biggest maker of jet engines and electric turbines also raised its dividend for the third time since July, though Chief Executive Jeff Immelt warned investors that GE does not plan to keep up that pace of increases.

13 Economy struggles for momentum, data shows

By Lucia Mutikani, Reuters

1 hr 44 mins ago

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Factory activity in Middle Atlantic states braked sharply in April and the number of Americans claiming new jobless benefits fell less than expected, implying the economy was struggling to regain momentum.

Other data on Thursday showed steep declines in home prices in February, underscoring the challenges confronting the economy, but the recovery is expected to remain on track.

The reports came a week before government data is expected to show growth slowed significantly in the first quarter. The economy grew at a 2.0 percent annualized rate, according to a Reuters survey, after a 3.1 percent pace in the last three months of 2010.

14 Rajaratnam defense in last shot to urge acquittal

By Jonathan Stempel and Grant McCool, Reuters

2 hrs 20 mins ago

NEW YORK (Reuters) – Raj Rajaratnam’s lawyer took his last shot at keeping his client out of prison, blasting the credibility of key witnesses and telling jurors on Thursday the government failed to prove the hedge fund manager broke insider-trading laws.

In his closing argument, chief defense lawyer John Dowd also fired back at the prosecution’s contention that Rajaratnam had corrupted his friends and colleagues. He said it was the people who testified against the Galleon Group founder who were corrupt or had lied.

Mostly reading from a lectern, with an unemotional Rajaratnam sitting five feet behind him, Dowd presented dozens of e-mails, trading records and excerpts from trial testimony to argue that Rajaratnam made trades based on public reports, not on tips about nonpublic information.

15 Lawsuits fly in BP’s Gulf spill blame game

By Tom Bergin and Moira Herbst, Reuters

1 hr 14 mins ago

LONDON/NEW YORK (Reuters) – A barrage of court claims pitting BP Plc against its partners in the Gulf of Mexico oil spill could lay the groundwork for billions of dollars in settlements to spread the costs of the disaster, legal experts say.

BP has sued Transocean Ltd, Halliburton Co and Cameron International Corp, in one of the biggest legal moves since last year’s blowout. It is seeking up to the full cost of the disaster — estimated at $42 billion — plus costs, interest and punitive damages from each of the companies that helped it drill the doomed well.

So far, BP has met the full cost of the clean-up effort alone and is paying compensatory damages to fishermen, shrimpers, property owners and others in the Gulf area affected by the spill.

16 BP sues Transocean for $40 billion over oil spill

By Jonathan Stempel and Paritosh Bansal, Reuters

Wed Apr 20, 10:33 pm ET

NEW YORK (Reuters) – On the first anniversary of the Gulf of Mexico oil spill, BP Plc sued Transocean, seeking at least $40 billion in damages and other costs from the owner of the Deepwater Horizon rig.

London-based BP also sued Cameron International Corp for negligence, saying a blowout preventer made by Cameron failed to avert the catastrophe.

Both complaints were filed Wednesday in federal court in New Orleans.

17 Gulf gets taste of recovery one year after spill

By Kathy Finn, Reuters

Wed Apr 20, 10:29 pm ET

GRAND ISLE, Louisiana (Reuters) – A year after the worst U.S. offshore oil spill swamped the Gulf coast with petroleum and misery, officials on Wednesday declared the hard-hit region reborn.

It is still too early to know the long-term damage to the Gulf’s rich and complex ecosystem. But, so far, predictions made at the height of the spill of an impending environmental Armageddon appear well overstated.

“We’re inviting America to come down here, have a great time, enjoy our seafood and be part of the greatest rebirth you will ever see,” said Louisiana’s Republican Governor Bobby Jindal at a ceremony to mark the event’s anniversary.

18 For $20 billion BP claims fund, legal challenges loom

By Moira Herbst, Reuters

Wed Apr 20, 7:58 pm ET

NEW YORK (Reuters) – On the one-year anniversary of the Gulf oil spill, BP Plc is facing challenges to its effort to contain another kind of disaster: mass litigation.

The oil giant last June established a $20 billion compensation fund for victims such as shrimpers, fishermen and property owners, with certain incentives for those who agreed not to sue the company and partners.

In an interview, Kenneth Feinberg, who oversees the fund, said it is “working as intended.” Some 280,500 claimants have applied for the final phase of the process, of whom roughly 126,500 have been paid for a total of about $1.3 billion. Virtually all claims from an earlier, emergency phase have been resolved for a total of $2.6 billion. “The sheer volume of claims processed demonstrates the success of the program, and the fact that almost $4 billion has gone out in less than nine months,” Feinberg said.

19 Antigua says U.S. online poker shutdown was illegal

By Jane Sutton, Reuters

1 hr 24 mins ago

MIAMI (Reuters) – The United States violated global trade law by shutting down Internet gambling sites based in Antigua and elsewhere and prosecuting their owners, according to Antigua and Barbuda officials considering action in the World Trade Organization.

Antigua and Barbuda, which licenses Internet gambling companies, has waged a long battle in the WTO over U.S. efforts to keep Americans from patronizing offshore betting sites. Last week’s shutdown of the three biggest online poker sites has the Caribbean nation ready to go another round.

It contends U.S. crackdowns against foreign betting sites are illegal and protectionist, since gambling for money is permitted in U.S. casinos and since online betting is allowed for state-regulated horse racing in the United States.

20 Troops pound Misrata, U.S. condemns "vicious" action

By Michael Georgy, Reuters

1 hr 27 mins ago

MISRATA, Libya (Reuters) – Libyan government troops pounded the besieged rebel-held city of Misrata on Thursday, undeterred by Western threats to step up military action against Muammar Gaddafi’s forces.

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said troops loyal to Gaddafi were carrying out “vicious attacks” on the city and might have used cluster bombs on civilians.

In Misrata. rebels and Gaddafi loyalists were fighting a ferocious battle, often at close quarters. Streets were barricaded with orange dump trucks, parts of cars and even bed frames and tree trunks.

21 Rebels seize Libya-Tunisia border crossing: witnesses

By Tarek Amara, Reuters

Thu Apr 21, 11:03 am ET

TUNIS (Reuters) – Rebels fighting Muammar Gaddafi’s forces in a mountainous region took control of the Libyan side of a border crossing with Tunisia on Thursday, waving the country’s pre-Gaddafi flag, witnesses said.

Thirteen Libyan officers and soldiers, including a general, handed themselves over to the Tunisian military at the border, Tunisia’s state news agency TAP reported, apparently seeking refuge after clashes with the insurgents.

Witnesses said some wounded Libyan soldiers were treated at a nearby Tunisian hospital.

22 Japan makes no-go nuclear zone, PM faces more criticism

By Yoko Kubota and Kazunori Takada, Reuters

Thu Apr 21, 10:22 am ET

TOKYO (Reuters) – Japan said on Thursday it would ban anyone entering a 20-km (12-mile) evacuation zone around the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant north of Tokyo, weeks after the tsunami-wrecked facility began leaking radiation.

An earthquake with a magnitude of 6.3 hit eastern Japan on Thursday evening, the U.S. Geological Survey said, but no tsunami warning was issued and there were no immediate reports of any casualties or damage.

Tens of thousands of people left the zone after the March 11 quake smashed the Fukushima Daiichi power station, operated by Tokyo Electric Power (TEPCO), but some have gone back to collect belongings as the utility struggles to contain the world’s most serious nuclear crisis since Chernobyl in 1986.

23 Bernanke briefing could be political boon for Fed

By Mark Felsenthal, Reuters

Thu Apr 21, 7:03 am ET

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke’s historic decision to hold news briefings may help inoculate the U.S. central bank from political meddling, while offering financial markets more clarity on monetary policy.

Bernanke holds the first regularly scheduled briefing by a Fed chief in the central bank’s 97-year history next Wednesday, kicking off what is to be a four-times-a-year event.

The news conferences will allow Bernanke to demystify the notoriously secretive Fed, which has faced sharp criticism for its unconventional crisis-fighting efforts.

24 Political rift was tipping point for S&P

By Daniel Bases, Al Yoon and Edith Honan, Reuters

Thu Apr 21, 4:14 am ET

NEW YORK (Reuters) – For the past 928 days, Standard & Poor’s has tracked the relentless deterioration of government finances. On Monday, it made a move that could turn out to be one of its boldest calls yet.

That’s when S&P announced that it was revising the credit outlook for the United States to “negative.” Its message was simple: the country could lose its gold-plated AAA credit rating if Washington could not agree on a plan to slash the budget deficit within the next couple of years.

History does not favor the United States keeping its prized rating.

25 Politics, ideology overshadow debt limit talks

By Andy Sullivan, Reuters

Wed Apr 20, 9:22 am ET

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – In the looming fight over raising the debt limit, Washington will have its eye on two deadlines: July 2011 and November 2012.

The first is the date by which Congress will likely have to act in order to ensure that the United States doesn’t default on its $14 trillion in accumulated debt.

The second deadline is when President Barack Obama and most members of Congress will face voters.

26 Lobbying push targets lawmakers on debt vote

By Tim Reid and Rachelle Younglai, Reuters

Wed Apr 20, 2:50 pm ET

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – They have been in Washington barely four months but the 85 first-term Republicans in the House of Representatives have found themselves the target of a massive lobbying campaign by Wall Street banks, big business and the Treasury.

The fiscally conservative freshmen are under intense pressure to vote to raise the cap on U.S. borrowing so that the United States can continue to pay its bills after May 16. The Obama administration has expressed confidence that a deal can be reached with Republicans but Wall Street is less sure.

Yet there are signs the intense lobbying effort is falling flat. Many freshmen still insist they will not vote to raise the debt ceiling unless it comes with legislation to slash America’s $1.4 trillion deficit.

27 At Facebook headquarters, Obama seeks 2008 energy

By Jeff Mason, Reuters

Thu Apr 21, 1:49 am ET

PALO ALTO, Calif (Reuters) – President Barack Obama sought to reignite the youthful energy that propelled his 2008 election Wednesday with a campaign-style visit to the nexus of social communications, Facebook.

Democrats acknowledge that Obama will need to rally many of the same forces that propelled him into the White House in order to win re-election in 2012: an army of young, energetic voters as well as a sizable showing from independent voters.

By visiting Facebook headquarters in California’s Silicon Valley, where 26-year-old founder Mark Zuckerberg is a folk hero, Obama sought to connect to tens of millions of people who have adopted social media as a prime method of communications.

28 Special Report: How Singapore lost Down Under in ASX bid

By Michael Smith and Saeed Azhar, Reuters

Thu Apr 21, 2:58 am ET

SYDNEY/SINGAPORE (Reuters) – Australian Treasurer Wayne Swan was in the South Korean coastal city of Gyeongju preparing for meetings with G20 finance ministers when he heard the news.

An adviser had to pry the politician’s attention from his mountain of summit paperwork to relay the story hitting the news wires that Friday afternoon in October: the Singaporean and Australian stock exchanges were in takeover talks.

Swan was stunned.

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